The highest distinction in the USSR was instituted by an ordinance of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR in April 16, 1934 . The title "Hero of the Soviet Union" and the Golden Star Medal is conferred for heroic feats performed for the Soviet State and Society.
Hero of the Soviet Union recieved also the Order of Lenin.
The valiant airmen who took part in rescuing the crew and passangers of the icebreaker "Chelyuskin", which became ice-bound and went down near the coast of the Chukotka Peninsula in February 1934, were the first persons, who received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Gold Star Medal. In the years of the Great Patriotic War over 11,500 people of more than 100 nationalities became Heroes of the Soviet Union.
There were 12,745 heroes by 1991. There were about 100 women (24 partisans) and 20 foreigners among heroes. Three of Heroes were given the Golden Star three times: General of Air Forces Ivan Kojedub, Marshal of Air Forces Alexander Pokryshkin, Marshal Semen Budennyi. This title was awarded to Marshal Georgii Jukov four times.